Friday, Jun 16, 2017
On the Friday before the Equality March, our staff and supporters stood in Judge Shawna Schwarz's courtroom in San Jose. This isn't unusual. You can find us standing beside the foster children we serve when the Judge enters her court room most working days as we help them navigate the dependency system.
But this wasn't a court hearing. Last Friday afternoon, Judge Schwarz wasn't relying on our volunteers to help her make life-changing decisions about a young person's placement, education, and treatment. Instead, the Judge had generously offered to let us use her courtroom for a different kind of milestone.
Child Advocates of Silicon Valley was awarded a Seal of Recognition by the Human Rights Campaign for our work with LGBTQ foster children in Judge Schwarz's court room, surrounded by our supporters and friends. Christian Sanchez, co-chair of the Human Rights Campaign's Bay Area Steering Committee handed the Seal of Recognition to our Executive Director, Karen Scussel. San Jose Councilman Lan Diep and Milpitas Councilman Bob Nuñez both shared their support and some kind words about the impact our volunteers make on the lives of foster children.
We are proud of the work our volunteers do every day in Silicon Valley. We are proud of the welcoming way they help foster children navigate their lives, relationships, orientations, gender identities and gender expressions. We are proud of the brave, funny, challenging, wonderful young people we have the honor of supporting. And we are proud of the commitment our board, staff, and volunteers have made to not only being welcoming, but always striving to do better. These children and youths deserve our very best. LGBTQ foster youth are over-represented in foster care, many having been rejected from their families because of their sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression. For the LGBTQ foster youth who has experienced physical, emotional or sexual abuse, the supportive role of the CASA volunteer is crucial to that child’s mental health and well-being.
After the ceremony, the speakers took a big group photo with the Seal of Recognition. In the shuffle to get everyone in the photo, someone called out that the sign the Seal was printed on wasn't straight. Our Executive Director had the perfect rejoinder (we'll let Councilmember Diep recount it):